Hyundai rolls out the ’21 Elantra in West Hollywood, CA, during a livestream event reflecting the sedan’s high-tech credentials.
Following the refreshed ’20 Sonata as the second car in Hyundai’s portfolio to adopt the automaker’s “sensuous sportiness” design language, the all-new ’21 Elantra isn’t as shocking as it otherwise might be. It also helps that a 2019 refresh of the outgoing Elantra adopted triangular design themes to help prepare consumers for the new car’s Parametric Dynamics styling details.
Still, there’s no denying the Elantra’s bold look is more cohesively executed than either of those models.
Built on the same third-generation vehicle architecture that underpins the ’20 Sonata, the ’21 Elantra is longer, wider, lower and lighter than the car it replaces. According to Hyundai, the stiffer platform improves steering responsiveness and enhances suspension performance. Combined with a lower center of gravity, the Elantra should deliver a more entertaining driving character.
The standard engine is the same Atkinson-cycle 2.0L 4-cyl. found in the ’20 Elantra, making 147 hp at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb.-ft. (179 Nm) of torque. It powers the front wheels using Hyundai’s continuously variable transmission using a wide-ratio pulley system and a chain-type belt for better low-ratio responsiveness, greater high-ratio fuel economy and simulated gear changes like those of a traditional automatic.
Hyundai’s big powertrain news relates to the Elantra Hybrid, which the company says will get more than 50 mpg (4.7 L/100 km) in combined driving. It employs an Atkinson-cycle 1.6L gasoline 4-cyl. and a 32-kW electric motor powered by a 1.32-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery.
Together, these components make 139 hp and 195 lb.-ft. (264 Nm) of torque with no loss of interior room or trunk space, Hyundai says. A 6-speed dual-clutch transmission delivers power to the front wheels, and the Elantra Hybrid also boasts an exclusive multi-link independent rear suspension.
Trim levels include SE, SEL and Limited. The Sport version of the ’20 Elantra, equipped with a turbocharged engine, will not return. Instead, Hyundai confirms it is cooking up a new Elantra N-Line sport sedan, with details to be shared later.
Inside (left), the ’21 Elantra has a clean look and a cockpit-style driving environment. It offers more space, too, thanks in part to seating mounted lower in the car. Most key dimensions increase, and Hyundai claims the new Elantra offers class-leading rear-seat legroom. The trunk measures 14.2 cu.-ft. (402 L), a bit smaller than before.
Technology is the star of the Elantra’s interior. The standard 8-in. (20-cm) touchscreen infotainment system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the available 10.25-in. (26-cm) infotainment screen supports Bluetooth connectivity for two smartphones at once. This widescreen display pairs with a digital instrument panel under a single piece of curved glass for a high-tech look.
With the widescreen infotainment system, Blue Link connected service is free for three years and powers a cloud-based navigation system. A natural-language voice-recognition system controls numerous vehicle functions to reduce driver distraction. An 8-speaker Bose premium audio system is optional.
Hyundai Digital Key is available for the ’21 Elantra, transforming an Android smartphone into the vehicle’s key. Owners can use this technology to unlock the Elantra, start the engine and lock the car upon arrival at a destination. Apple smartphone owners can use an included NFC card for this same purpose until Hyundai and Apple agree on how best to add the digital-key app to an iPhone.
Safety offerings are extensive. From the new multi-load path structures baked into the platform to the available Highway Driving Assist adaptive cruise control with lane-centering assistance, Hyundai enables the new Elantra to warn drivers, take action to prevent a collision and protect occupants in the event a crash is unavoidable.
Sales begin in the fourth quarter; pricing was not released at the unveiling. Hyundai will build the Elantra Hybrid in Ulsan, South Korea, with the remainder sourced from the automaker’s factory near Montgomery, AL.